Today I finally got to grips with the Compensation Scheme that Manchester City have set up for victims of abuse by Barry Bennell and John Broome. In registering my first claim for a victim under the Scheme I have now been able to consider the Scheme in detail and its implications for my clients.
By way of background various young football players at certain teams connected to Manchester City suffered abuse at the hands of John Broome and Barry Bennell. In the case of John Broome the club have offered to compensate victims between 1 August 1964 and 31 May 1971. In the case of Barry Bennell the club have offered to compensate victims between 1 August 1976 and 1 November 1979 and 1 August 1981 to 31 December 1984.
The Scheme is an interesting one which will significantly benefit some victims but which will result in other victims receiving less compensation than they may achieve through the civil courts.
The Scheme applies a tariff which is akin to a Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. Damages are split into three categories. The first category is for General Damages/Pain and Suffering. The various types of abuse perpetrated are split into different categories and you are compensated dependent upon the severity of the abuse and the frequency with which it occurred. As an example a single incident of touching over clothes would attract £5,000 compensation. Full rape taking place repeatedly for a year or more would attract redress of £65,000.
The second category of compensation relates to disadvantage on the labour market and this is where some clients may miss out. If a victim is alleging a significant Loss of Earning claim the compensation is derisory. Impact on earning ability will only be considered for the more serious types of abuse and the opinion of a Consultant Psychiatrist is required to support this aspect of the claim. The damages range from £5,000 for minor impact on ability to work through to £35,000 for the most serious impact lasting more than six months.
These figures are right at the bottom of the scale one could expect to achieve in a civil action for a “Blamire” award or a “Smith” award and certainly are scant consolation for someone whose ability to work may have been significantly impaired by the abuse.
We regularly come across clients abused in childhood whose education has been terribly affected and who then experience addiction problems or an inability to work through mental health reasons for a number of years. The Scheme would not be appropriate for these people.
The final aspect to the Scheme is compensation for therapeutic costs. Again an expert would need to support the need for costs which range from £2,000 for the less serious offences through to £4,000 for the most serious.
In addition the legal costs in pursuing the claim will be met under the terms of the Scheme at a fixed level.
The Scheme does have many advantages. For the less serious forms of abuse where there are no Loss of Earnings the redress is quite generous. The risks in relation to limitation are also overcome.
For the more serious cases, however, where a significant long term psychiatric injury is alleged which has had an impact on a Claimants ability to work I believe the Scheme will result in Claimants being under compensated.
There are other interesting aspects to the Scheme. The first is that Manchester City have set up a panel of psychiatrists and you must choose one of these psychiatrists when bringing the claim. I feel that this is wholly unfair. The psychiatrists are in the pay of Manchester City. They will presumably be being referred a lot of work as a result of having their names on the Scheme. I do feel that to ensure complete transparency it would only be reasonable for the Claimants themselves to nominate experts to prepare reports. None of the experts that I regularly instruct as a Claimant solicitor are on the panel.
It is also noteworthy that Manchester City are prepared to provide an apology for what happened. I have acted for clients recently who have received apologies from Chelsea Football Club in similar circumstances. This is often more important than the actual damages element of the claim. Victims are keen to receive an apology for what they have suffered and in particular a reassurance that steps are being take to prevent anybody else suffering similarly in the future.
The letter I received from the solicitors to Manchester City suggests that the Scheme is set up “to avoid the costs, time, emotional distress and complexity of a Trial within an alternative dispute resolution process.”
From my initial dealings with the Scheme I believe that it does achieve this end and that many victims will receive their compensation far more quickly and with less emotional distress than would be the case if they were to proceed with these cases through the civil courts.
If you have suffered abuse at the hands of a football coach, whether at Manchester City or any other club, Farleys have a team of experienced abuse solicitors who can discuss your situation in confidence and advise on your options for making a claim for compensation. We understand it can be extremely difficult to discuss your experiences so we have a number of ways in which you can contact us; call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430, submit your enquiry through our online form, or contact me directly through firstname.lastname@example.org.